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Federal judge strikes down Missouri medical marijuana residency requirement

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A federal judge has struck down Missouri’s residency requirement for ownership in the state’s medical marijuana companies, which could open the door to out-of-state operators capturing a larger share of the fledgling industry.

The requirement had already been blocked from enforcement in June by U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey of the Western District of Missouri. Last week, after a seven-minute trial, Laughrey said she would enjoin the rule permanently, according to records of the case. An official order has not yet been issued by the court.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which oversees the medical marijuana program, indicated Tuesday it won’t appeal the decision.

“We are happy to have clarity on how we should handle the ownership residency requirement in the Missouri Constitution and will comply with the court’s decision,” spokeswoman Lisa Cox said in an email.

As part of the constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana that Missouri voters approved in 2018, state-licensed marijuana cultivation plants, dispensaries and manufacturing facilities must be majority-owned by Missouri residents of at least one year.

The rule was challenged in a lawsuit by Pennsylvania-based investor Mark Toigo last December, arguing that it violated the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause. [Read more at Kansas City Star]

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